The Caracas, 7th October
I started the day to a cat trying to convince me to have sex with it. Seriously. Not the “I’m humping your leg” thing that dogs do either, this was a female cat shoving her rear up in my face as soon as I woke up… I guess its a nice gesture, though I’m not really into cats that way…
Anyways, I had slept like a baby, even though it was something like a billion degrees outside, and I woke up when Ana got back from showering and primping at her house. We had to catch the bus from Vargas for Caracas fairly early that day so that she could make it to a meeting, so we ate a quick breakfast (thank you Ana for bringing it over! Effectively a Venezuelan version of turkey on cornbread) with Savas and then headed down the street to catch the bus.
There aren’t really bus stops in Caracas, as much as routes where you stand out in the road and flag the bus down: honestly a slightly more effective system, although it does leave you a bit exposed to the insanity of Venezuelan drivers. See… I thought Boston drivers were bad, or that Miami drivers were crazy… at least they sometimes follow traffic lights and don’t cut onto the other side of the road constantly. While in Caracas I saw a guy on a motorcycle run a red light so that he could cut between two cars turning towards each other like closing doors. I swore he was going to get smashed, but he made it through with almost two entire inches to spare. Yeah. Insane. Funny thing though: the National Guard troops are just as bad. I saw them pull the exact same maneuver, except with four motorcycles with two people on each.
Aside from the insane motorists, Caracas is honestly a really nice city. It looks old though, with dozens of concrete skyscrapers towering above the smaller buildings. They look like they used to be pretty, but honestly now its more like they’ve been through a war or two with the number of broken windows and cracked facades. Its a strange dichodomy; the buildings and the streets are a mess, but the people are some of the most beautiful people ever: they put so much effort into their outfits and look (piercings, tattoos, makeup, all of it), yet the city looks like its falling apart. Strange, but also cool.
Anyways, on my first day in Caracas I spent most of it exploring around the university while Ana was at her meeting. Its an awesome place, although from what I heard they only just started allowing non-military children in (it used to be solely for children of the upper echelons of the command). As such, the only enterances are guarded gates, with troops stationed nearby. I was able to walk right in though, so I think the gates are more for show (and checking cars) than anything else. I grabbed some snacks at one of the food carts outside the university (woo hoo for my first transaction in Spanish!) and generally just hung out, reading and exploring.
I headed back to the Hostel around 15:00, stopping along the way to grab another quick bite to eat. While I was checking out I hear someone yelling my name, and turn around to see Ana flying through the air in a tackling hug 🙂 Turns out that Ana had been searching for me for the last two hours, thinking that I had been murdered or something! For some reason her phone can’t send text messages to mine (I think its the fact that mine is a British phone), and so she had been trying to contact me for most of the day. Luckily we ran into each other while I was getting food, otherwise we may never have met up again! 😦
But so I went back to the Hostel, changed the gear that I had with me, and we headed out onto the town to meet up with a friend of hers to explore the city a bit. Thankfully he had a car, so we got to move through the city a bit quicker than we would on foot, and quite a bit safer. I only say safer because he has a massive Ford Explorer, and I’m pretty sure the small motorcycles couldn’t actually do too much damage to it if they ran into us… the drivers are still scary as all hell to me, hehe.
After we met Ana’s friend, we headed out to have a traditional Venezuelan dinner (I can’t remember the name, but it was pulled beef, beans, rice, plantains, cheese, and something that tasted like watermelon). It was amazing, and I’m honestly amazed at the price too; it was a full meal in a fancy restaurant, and it cost a total of… $14. After tax and tip. Seriously.
After dinner we hit up a fancy coffee hours to try out some Venezuelan chocolates (People forget, but Chocolate is from South America… Germany and Switzerland have nothing on Venezuela when it comes to tasty chocolate. The coffee was excellent as well, and by the time we headed out I had a nice state of mind created by the combined stimulation of coffee and the lethargy of Irish-cream and Whiskey chocolates.